The 2020 Chief Information Officer (CIO) Agenda

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

At the beginning of 2020, the excitement and momentum that came with starting a new decade seems like a distant memory. Now, only a few months away from a welcomed fresh start, we can start to reflect on how the COVID-19 pandemic changed work-life balance as we know it. Priorities and goals in the workplace have completely shifted, and management teams around the world have been forced to make difficult decisions. Specifically, the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO).

As a CIO, your job is focused on the management, execution, implementation, and usability of information and computer technologies. However, as more companies are now working remotely, this position has taken on another role: maintain support. In this blog post, we provide a snapshot of the CIOs agenda in the wake of the pandemic and explore what’s ahead for this role.

An Unexpected Reset

During the beginning of the pandemic, CIOs quickly found themselves focusing on damage control and crisis prevention. A CIODive article featured an interview with the CIO and EVP of Invitation Homes, Virginia Suliman. In the article, Holmes revealed that “‘in a matter of four hours the CIO role changed very quickly,’ Suliman told CIO Dive. The task at hand shifted from long-term strategy to firefighting as the company’s staff went remote.”

Without warning, the IT industry was faced with providing remote support in only a matter of weeks, and CIOs prepared to solve problems in a new capacity. While remote support is not a foreign concept to many IT teams, the new increase in demand is. Many CIOs were tasked with equipping their teams with the necessary tools and taking a deeper research dive into emerging technologies as long-term investments.

The security industry has now effectively shown that tools like the Security Information and Event Management Platform, that ingests multiple security applications, are valuable. These platforms are especially helpful in an event like the current pandemic that requires remote work to be implemented very quickly. CIOs now realize that tools like the NEXT Generation Cloud-Native SIEM allow simple remote access to the multiple security tools that it ingests, while allowing remote workers to take immediately action to protect the network.

What are the Current Priorities?

As CIOs continue responding to challenges due to the pandemic, the need for finding a balance between remote support and restructuring efforts is only increasing. Altered budgets and project timelines are just a couple areas that were impacted as a result of the pandemic. A recent TechRepublic article, which highlighted findings from a report by Hitachi ID stated, “72 percent of those who mentioned cybersecurity as a long-term goal said their priorities had shifted since January. Next on the list, remote enablement was cited as the top priority by 82 percent of the respondents.” Through the survey, it is clear just how much the industry’s landscape has changed.

When trying to gain some sense of normalcy, it is imperative that CIOs take a step back and assess their department’s current abilities to work remotely while accomplishing what it used to do while physically present in the office. According to the CIODive article, companies who are regrouping on how to operate effectively during the pandemic should first consider which of these three categories they fall under:

  1. Reduce: Certain industries have had their operations significantly impacted by the pandemic and are now trying to reduce their products, services, locations and footprint in order to stay afloat. Leveraging technology in efforts to neutralize costs is critical if you find your company in this situation.
  1. Return: “After dealing with the direct impact of the pandemic, CIOs in this group of companies will be returning to the priorities they set at the end of last year and looking to identify new areas of investment.”
  1. Rescale: Companies that experienced a spike in demand during the pandemic are trying to capture market share and continue to increase their growth curve. As a direct result, these companies are funneling more resources into technology.

Regardless of how your organization fits into these categories, it is critical that you take the necessary steps to establish a new normal. By refocusing your efforts, you can help ensure that your organization stays afloat and/or continues to grow.

The Future of CIOs

So, what does this all mean? For starters, a CIO’s job description is adjusting and expanding to accommodate new demands. As the IT industry continues to shift, we will likely continue seeing a greater focus on the implementation of risk management practices. Also, it’s likely that global IT spending will suffer at times as funds are allocated elsewhere.

In the end, CIOs are expected to continue to adjust their department’s priorities, goals, budgets, projects and employees. Although the future is still uncertain for many companies, the upside remains that CIOs are in a position of power as they strive to positively impact the fate of their company’s success.

Looking for more ideas on how to manage your remote workload? Read our blog post, “Seven Helpful Tips to Guide Your Remote Workload.”